Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
When the Los Angeles Dodgers reported to Dodger Stadium for the start of Summer Camp, Kenley Jansen was among the most notable absentees.
The all-time Dodgers saves leader explained that the delay stemmed from him previously testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). He revealed that his entire household was at one point affected, with his wife, Gianni, and son, Kaden, also contracting the virus.
Despite not arriving to camp on time, Jansen has still gotten into three games, including Sunday’s exhibition opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The right-hander tossed a perfect inning and has not yet allowed a baserunner in any of his outings.
“I feel great,” Jansen said. “I feel good. Since we’ve been dealing with this pandemic, I never stopped. “I got back from Arizona and never stopped pitching or facing hitters. I feel great. When I got hit with COVID, I took a couple weeks off and tried to keep my focus.”
One area of focus for Jansen has been simply repeating his pitches in outings. “I feel great. With how I can control my lower body and drive, everything follows,” he said. “Once my lower body is under me and I’m going toward a direct, it’s going to follow.
“I feel like that’s going to help me be in the zone or put the ball wherever I want to consistently.”
With Opening Day just three days away, Jansen noted that he will continue getting reps this week. “Get here early to the field, get some PFP, throw to bases, cover some bunts,” he said.
“Situations that I didn’t have the last three days pitching. Throw to second, throw to first, get some bunt coverage. Stuff like that is going to help me. And just one more game.”
An adjustment Jansen and other Dodgers players will have to make is playing in empty ballparks. “It is weird,” Jansen said of the piped-in fan noise. “It didn’t hype me up at all compared to seeing thousands of people in the stands up cheering. That’s a new thing right now for us, we’ve just got to get used to it. Once we adjust to it it’ll be fine.”
Jansen went into further detail, pointing out that the lack of fans have made it difficult for him to get amped up on the mound. “It’s hard. When you’re on the road they root against you and say a bunch of stuff that I can’t say right now to pump you up,” he said.
“When you’re at home, fans are cheering for you. The adrenaline will never kick in. The fans give you that extra energy. It’s going to be an adjustment.”
Kenley Jansen credits work with Driveline Baseball for improved cutter
Prior to the pandemic, Jansen was one of a handful of Dodgers players to work with Driveline Baseball over the offseason. He credited them for his early success in exhibition play.
“It’s helped tremendously,” Jansen said of his time with Driveline. “It was more getting back of how I stride to home plate and finding my rhythm. They helped me through that and I’ve got to give them a lot of credit. You see how I’m driving straight to the plate, it’s effortless.”
Jansen has particularly noticed an improvement in his cutter, getting more consistent movement. “I’m staying more behind instead of around it,” he said.
“Whenever I’m too much on it that’s when I get in trouble. It starts going sideways and hitters can see it pretty well. When I’m behind it, it’s going to have that spin.
“That’s the one thing I understand about myself, the cutter and how it works. I have to give credit to Driveline for helping me understand what kind of pitching I have and how we’re going to make it effective. It’s all about your lower body and staying behind it.”
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